When freshman outside hitter Samantha Gioiosa failed to connect on what would be the last set, the Binghamton volleyball team could only shake their heads in disappointment as they dropped their final game and sequence, 25-10. Despite winning three out of their previous four matches, the Bearcats (3-7) collected three losses in the Cornell Invitational this weekend.
With team morale and confidence at a season high, BU kicked off its weekend with a tough matchup against Cornell University. Although the Big Red (3-3) downed Binghamton in four sets, each frame remained competitive throughout.
“We came in with a lot of confidence, especially after playing Siena early in the week,” said BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama. “We knew our matches with Cornell are usually pretty good battles and long matches.”
Binghamton dropped the first, third and fourth sets against Cornell with scores of 25-18, 25-22 and 25-21, respectively. Despite winning the second frame, the Bearcats were outscored in points, kills, aces, blocks and assists in the opener.
Similar to the first game, offensive woes plagued the Bearcats in their second matchup of the weekend against Valparaiso University. The Crusaders (4-5) took control of the series early, capturing victories in the first two frames.
In an effort to avoid the sweep, BU took the third frame by capitalizing on a seven-point run to start the game. Unable to continue their success, the Bearcats’ offense struggled in the last set and Binghamton ultimately fell to Valparaiso, earning its second loss of the weekend.
“There were some stretches where we just don’t connect very well and the hitters struggle a little bit in finding the open spots,” Kiriyama said. “The other thing is sometimes we’ll have certain players still have a really nice match and play well but not some of the others are struggling.”
In the second game of the doubleheader on Saturday, Binghamton was dominated by a much more physical St. John’s squad. The Red Storm (7-3) swept the Bearcats in three straight sets and outscored them by 28 on the day.
BU committed 28 errors, posted a .066 hitting percentage and recorded just one block in the loss to St. John’s. The last set offered insight to Binghamton’s inconsistency, as the team turned in a 10-point frame.
“Consistency is something we try to work on a lot,” Kiriyama said. “I think that’s the sign of an experienced player. The next couple of weeks we’ve got to get ready for the conference. We’re working out on some things that we need to straighten out for our team.”
In the Bearcats’ defense, the lack of height among the players has definitely been a contributing factor in several defeats this season. Facing off against freshman outside hitter Jordan McCalla and other 6-foot players, BU was simply undersized and overpowered in its matchup with St. John’s.
“They had a 6’4’’ outside that was hard to stop at times, but we got our hands on quite a few balls that she hit,” Kiriyama said. “I thought their middles … we didn’t handle them very well or block them very well. The height could have been a significant factor in this match.”
Even though the Bearcats came up winless this weekend, the team is hoping to utilize the rest of its nonconference schedule to work on its consistency and ball control. Entering its last tournament before America East Conference play, BU will go on to battle more high-level competition next weekend.
“I think they know the things they need to work on … each of them has a role to play,” Kiriyama said. “They just got to get a little bit better in their roles. Hopefully we can click better on offensive, both from passing to setting and then connecting with our hitters.”
After falling in each match of the Cornell Invitational, Binghamton will compete in the Hofstra Tournament next weekend. First serve against Hofstra University is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday from the David S. Mack Physical Education Center in Hempstead, New York.